There’s a lot of talent currently in the Raiders’ backfield, yet somehow, drafting a running back later in the ’22 NFL draft makes a lot of sense.
When it came to making moves this off-season, the Las Vegas Raiders were anything but shy. The team’s general manager, Dave Ziegler, made an aggressive effort to patch holes once free agency began. Whether it was by trade or hitting the free agent market, splashes were made at various positions on the roster; The running back unit was no exception to this.
The Raiders’ brought in Brandon Bolden and Ameer Abdullah, with Bolden presumably being the team’s third-down back. In addition, fullback Jakob Johnson was brought over, who may very well be the best lead-blocking fullback leaguewide.
These new additions come as compliments to Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, who were the only running backs on the roster before the start of this year’s free agency.
Jacobs was a Pro Bowler in 2020 and has been one of the most consistent players on the roster since he was drafted in the ’19 NFL draft.
At first glance, it may look like he had a down year last season, but a deeper dive busts that myth. Jacobs improved everywhere in the passing game, including yards, receptions, first downs, and catch percentage. The former 24th overall pick continued to showcase his toughness as well, breaking another 20+ tackles for the third year in a row.
Drake also played well last season, specifically in the passing game, where he totaled 291 yards on a career-high 9.7 yards per reception. Drake ended the season with 545 scrimmage yards and three total scores.
At this point in their careers, it’s clear Jacobs is a reliable workhorse, Drake is a higher-tier complimentary back, and based on Bolden’s 405 receiving yards last season, the former Patriot can make plays happen as a third-down back. Add in Johnson’s run blocking dominance, and this is quite the backfield.
And yet, a running back selection makes perfect sense for the Raiders later in the draft. How is this possible?